Distrust of the U.S. government has reached an all-time high among Americans, a majority of whom now say Washington represents a threat to their personal freedoms.

According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 53% of respondents said the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms. Those disagreeing numbered 43%.

The percentage of those viewing the government as a threat represents a six-point increase from nearly three years ago, when 47% said they felt that way, and a 23% jump from November 2001, when Americans rallied around their government following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Conservative Republicans are the largest group who distrust Washington, with 76% expressing fear for their personal freedoms. A majority (54%) described the government as a "major" threat.

Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom, while 47% said it was a major threat, according to the Pew survey.

Meanwhile, only 38% of Democrats see the government as a threat to personal rights and freedoms, with 16% viewing it as a major threat.

Among gun owners, 62% see the government as a threat, compared with 45% of those without guns.